Srinagar, Dec 1 : The national highway, the only road connecting Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir valley remained closed for the fifth day on Sunday following accumulation of several feet of snow and slippery road conditions due to below freezing temperatures.
However, Srinagar bound vehicles which were stranded at Sonmarg on this side of the Zojila pass on the highway, were cleared on Saturday night. Traffic remained suspended on Sunday as a precautionary measure as accumulated several feet of snow has frozen due to which the highway has become very slippery.
He said there was several feet of fresh snowfall at Sonamarg and Zojila pass besides at Meenmarg and Drass, the second coldest place in the world after Siberia on Wednesday and Thursday. He said besides fresh snowfall, the road has become slippery following below freezing temperature, due to which traffic remained suspended from both sides.
Traffic will be allowed only after clearance of snow and improvement in the weather, he said. Officials said that there is less chance of reopening of the highway as more than five to six feet of snow has accumulated at several places and there is also threat of avalanches. The highway, the only road connecting UT Ladakh with Kashmir, remained closed for six months during winter due to below freezing temperature and accumulation of snow since November 1 every year. However, for the past few years due to efforts of the local administration and different agencies of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), highway now remains open in the month of December also till there is heavy snowfall.
Earlier, before the division of the state into two UTs the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, was taking decision to close the highway for winter months. However, since Ladakh has now become an independent UT, decision to close or reopen the highway will have to be taken by administration of UT Ladakh and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, about 100 vehicles on way to Srinagar from Ladakh had got stranded at Sonamarg in central Kashmir following heavy snowfall. The snow clearance operation was completed on Saturday and vehicles were allowed to move towards Srinagar from Sonamarg, traffic spokesman said. (UNI)